The scene is easily set. Take a good selection of local produce, use existing experience with wine pairing, Sicilian of course and create a grand degustazione.
That was the case recently when Queensland Cricketer’s Club (QCC) President Michael Cowley asked me to create the bones of a meal with QCC’s executive chef, a terrific chap, Fraser Hill.
It was a case of describing suitable ingredients, indicate what wine styles are a match, and bingo, some sensory creation is underway.
To put you in the mood, the seascape pictured is taken from my lunch table, smack alongside the Mediterranean at noon, in the ancient western Sicilian town of Marsala.
Marsala lunchtime seascape
This seaside spot is known as the landing place of Garabaldi when he liberated the island in the 1840s prior to Italian unification.
Not much has changed since then, the finfish have lessened in supply, the Arab food influence is as strong but the Trapinese flavours remain superlative.
And of course seafood is on the QCC menu, in the case of Fraser Hill’s dish, tuna, also caught locally along the Marsala coast, though usually plate size.
Trapinese-style fresh yellowfin tuna
Chef took some grand yellowfin tuna muscle, trimmed as a fillet, brined it overnight, seared and seasoned it, then sliced it thinly to present on some wafer-thin cucumber.
The accompaniments assist to draw out the saline-subtle sea flesh tastes, very shy and requiring contrast, in this case with low bitterness ruby grapefruit (pink).
Also on the plate is the stark hit of anise from the fennel shaving and chili cleverly drizzled in the green extra virgin oil to remind us of Sicily’s previous Muslim occupation as well as the decoration that oil makes to the dish.
Seafood flavour, like the oiliness is drawn out on your palate by a mouthful of bone-dry white wine-in this case a high acid, light bodied, unwooded vino chosen from the slopes of Mt. Etna (900 metres); of the grape carricante and native to this area since the Greeks last occupied in 3BC.
Chosen was Planeta’s IGT Carricante, 13% (AUD 35), from their recently-established northern Etna property; pale, minerally, savoury, sufficiently understated to tease tuna and mingle saltiness, bitterness and oiliness to sensory crescendo.
Here is the full pictorial of the QCC President’s Sicilian Dinner
Uncorked and Cultivated conduct annual bespoke France tours for small groups in the Sicilian autumn (October) to drinkable destinations. Next bookings are for 2014.
Find out more by visiting http://www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au/tours or calling Denise on +61 412 403 567.